Two more murders raise death count in outer East Portland

See what we’ve found out about two homicides – in the Hazelwood and the Centennial neighborhoods. And, get the TRUE story about how the police bureau’s spokesman helped capture one of the suspected murderers …

Throughout the day, detectives carefully look for evidence at a house, here in the northeast corner of the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some folks are calling December 15th “Bloody Monday”. Two individuals – one in a home in outer East Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood, the other in a house trailer in the Centennial area –violently lost their lives.

Death in Hazelwood
A resident on NE 143rd Avenue, between E. Burnside and NE Glisan Streets, noticed his neighbor hadn’t been around, so he went over and checked to see how he was dong.

“8:12 am, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers were called to the 100 block of NE 143rd Avenue, after a man found the body of his neighbor,” reported the bureau’s Public Information Officer (PIO), Sergeant Brian Schmautz.

There was evidence of homicidal violence at the scene; Homicide Detectives were called to conduct an investigation,” Schmautz added.

His neighbor found this man, 67-year-old Howard Curtiss Olson, dead of ‘homicidal violence’ in his Hazelwood home.

“An autopsy, conducted by the Multnomah County Medical Examiner determined that Olson died of Homicidal Violence,” Schmautz told us the following day. “The victim has been identified as 67-year-old Howard Curtiss Olson. For investigative reasons, detectives are withholding specific information about the cause of death.”

As this investigation continues, you are asked to call Detective Steve Ober at (503) 823-4033 or Detective Jim McCausland at (503) 823-0449, if you have information about this case.

Suspected Centennial-area murderers nabbed

Here at Mobile Estates, in the Centennial neighborhood, the sound of gunshots prompt citizens to call police on what turned out to be a murder. The pickup truck seen exiting the park is NOT related to this case.

While officers were beginning to investigate the Hazelwood murder, at 9:26 am on December 15, someone heard shots ring out at about a mile to the south in the Centennial neighborhood.

When police arrived at the at the Mobile Estates trailer park in the 16700 block of SE Division Street, officers found the body of a deceased man in his mid to late forties.

Homicide Detectives were called to conduct an investigation, and witnesses described several people – and a car – they believed to be involved in the shooting.

Sgt. Brian Schmautz, here talking with reporters at a crime scene, earlier in the year.

PIO helps capture gun-toting suspect
Sgt. Schmautz told us that he was driving from the earlier homicide, and pulled up to the trailer park when officers noticed a vehicle that matched the description given by witnesses.

“One of the suspects jumped out of the car, and started running down the sidewalk,” related Schmautz. “He was seen carrying a gun. I was paralleling him, ready to help officers on scene set up a perimeter to contain the suspect.”

The suspect did a U-turn in the parking lot, trying to get away. “I could see him through the arborvitae, running right toward me. I waited until the suspect was 15 or 20 feet from me, and then stepped into his path,” Schnautz continued.

When the suspect saw Schmautz’s drawn service revolver, he stopped running. Another officer ran to join Schmautz and provide cover. “The suspect would not keep his hands up, and away from his body. I was concerned because he had been seen with a gun just a few minutes before.”

The covering officer handed Schmautz his Tazer – who used it.  And shortly after being shocked, the suspect complied and gave up.

Not all of this story has been told correctly by others – but now, you know exactly how it happened that the Police Department’s spokesman became a key part of a story he was on scene to help reporters cover.

“Really, none of this is about me,” Schmautz said modestly. “I just did one little part. Officers were there before I arrived – and for hours after it happened – examining the crime scene and talking to people in the area. I happened to be in place a place where I could help out.”

This trio, nabbed by cops, includes 22-year-old Lindsey Michelle Criss, charged with one count of Aggravated Murder; and 33-year-old Jason Ray Jarrell and 40-year-old Verneal Jones, both charged with one count of Murder.

Police say this man, 48-year-old Joe Frank Cruz, was shot to death at the Mobile Estates trailer park.

Dies from gunshot wound
“The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s autopsy determined that the victim, 48-year-old Joe Frank Cruz, died from a gunshot wound,” Schmautz later stated. “For investigative reasons, investigators are withholding additional information in this investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Brian Grose at (503) 823-0757, or Detective Bryan Steed at (503) 823-0395.”

Late in the afternoon, officers and detectives work the Division Street crime scene, using the Community Policing Mobile Precinct as their headquarters.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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